Victoria Hidalgo, a Florida mother, was jailed after police said she left her baby home alone on Thanksgiving to go to a bar, according to local reports.
Hidalgo was arrested and charged with child neglect the same day, after police pulled her over on the way home. She has since been released on bail, and the child is reportedly in the custody of a family member.
When contacted by reporters at her home on Thursday, Hidalgo declined to comment on the events that led to her arrest.
Police: Victoria Hidalgo Fired Gun, Then Left Baby Alone
Port Charlotte police said they were first contacted about Hidalgo by a woman who said she had just spoken to the Florida mom over the phone. The unnamed tipster said Hidalgo “sounded as though she was under the influence of alcohol” and said she had fired a gun in her home.
The woman went to Hidalgo’s house, where she told police she saw a bullet lodged in the door, and noticed that the car she and Hidalgo shared was not in its parking spot. WINK wrote that the woman let sheriff’s deputies into the home, where they found Hidalgo’s 2-year-old son, who is reportedly disabled, alone in his crib.
Later that night, WESH reported, Hidalgo’s vehicle was pulled over by deputies. Officers said she was riding in the passenger seat, slurring her speech and smelling of alcohol, while an unidentified man was in the driver’s seat.
The driver told police did not Hidalgo but offered her a ride home from the Paddy Wagon Irish Pub because she was visibly intoxicated.
The Florida mom was taken into custody and booked in Charlotte County jail on a charge of child neglect without bodily harm — a third degree felony punishable by up to five years in prison under state law. She was reportedly released on $3,500 bond after her arrest, but county booking records do not note when she left the jail.
It’s not clear if Hidalgo has retained an attorney, or when she is due back in court to answer the charge.
‘She’s Always There With the Baby’
Neighbors told local reporters that they couldn’t believe the allegations against Hidalgo, who they said appeared to be a responsible mother to her 2-year-old son.
“It shocks me that she left the baby alone because she’s always there with the baby,” neighborhood resident Lauren Schmidt told WINK.
Schmidt said she had noticed Hidalgo seemed anxious in the days before her arrest, and invited the mom over for dinner. “Totally stressed out, yeah, she was very upset,” the neighbor said. “You know, she has a disabled son. You know, the poor child has gone through 10 operations and he’s 2.”
NBC-2 reported that Hidalgo’s mother said the baby “suffers from numerous, serious medical conditions.” The child recently underwent brain surgery, is not able to walk, and requires intensive daily care, the outlet added.
No neighbors reported hearing the gunshot, though Schmidt claimed Hidalgo told her why she had the weapon.
“She said that, you know, she had it for protection, that she was concerned about someone in particular,” Schmidt said. No further details were forthcoming as of Friday.
“There is no excuse for an infant to be left in a home alone, nor is there a good explanation for the discharge of the firearm,” said Charlotte County Sheriff Bill Prummell. “It is clear that this woman’s priorities are way out of order, and I hope this experience serves as a wake-up call for her.”